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'We've all had to insist our parents receive a fundamental aspect of care, quickly'

  • Comments (7)

Depending on how you want to look at it, our collective parents are either draining the NHS of vast proportions of its resources or keeping an awful lot of health professionals in gainful employment.

A get-together with friends will rarely get beyond the first drink before someone kicks in with “My Dad’s not too good again”. And then we’re off, comparing symptoms, care packages and treatment plans.

For the most part, our parents receive fantastic care from the NHS. But of course, things do sometimes go wrong, and if you’re making heavy use of the health service the chances that something will go wrong for you are obviously greater - particularly if you have complex needs requiring the input of numerous specialties.

So the other thing my friends and I have in common is that we have all, at some point, had to step in and insist that our parents receive a fundamental aspect of care, and that they receive it quickly. I’m not talking about anything out of the ordinary here, but a pressure-redistributing mattress, a diagnostic test or a side room in which to die peacefully.

We have all found it uncomfortable to assert ourselves, despite being generally confident and articulate - and having more knowledge of health and the healthcare system than the average citizen.

So while my friends and I quote stroke strategies and NICE guidelines to get the best for our parents, what happens to the patients whose families don’t know what they should be insisting on, or who don’t have any relatives?

The only thing that ensures frail, undemanding and rarely visited patients getwhat they need is the presence of a skilful and compassionate nursing team that is willing and able to take on the role that we pushy offspring fulfil for our parents.

  • Comments (7)

Readers' comments (7)

  • Anonymous

    My parents weren't 'rarely visited', but did still require intevention from 'pushy offspring' to get the right care. I might add it wasn't solely nursing care, but medical care also. It does make you wonder how parents of less health-educated offspring fair in the NHS system. I hope my parents were more of an exception than the rule.

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  • Anonymous

    My mother had several admissions to her local, much respected, local hospital in Lancashire; (where she had once worked;) during the latter stages of her life. Initially I had no concerns regarding the excellent care she received and was able to return to Surrey knowing she was in good hands. On her last admission I immediately noticed that the care she received was very much below the standards of previous admissions. I found myself constantly chasing staff ("pushy offspring of course") to come and assist Mum with basic elements of her nursing care. In the end I became so frustrated that I performed most of the tasks myself; ie dealing with incontinence, (emptying full to the brim urinary drainage bags} all aspects of personal care etc etc, much to my mothers embarrassment I add. It was impossible to get satisfactory information from many of the nursing team simply because they were short staffed and "too busy" Eventually I managed to speak to one nurse who informed me the hospital had recently applied for Foundation Status resulting in a cut back of staffs and longer hours for existing staff; she was acutely aware of the distress this was causing but could do nothing to improve this sorry state of affairs. I felt very sad that this once excellent hospital had become so poor. It was even sadder to see earlier this year that the hospital had received a very poor rating from CQc, failing on the very basics of nursing care and dignity. How shocking that this should be a result of the ridiculous targets managers and directors of hospitals have to achieve in order to "tick the boxes" our Government require. Thank goodness I was the "pushy offspring" during my now late mothers admission, I can only feel absolute despair for the frail patients who had no such advocate to help them.

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  • My 67 year old husband has had 4 emergency hospital admissions in the past 5 years. I have needed to be a 'pushy wife' on each occasion in order to get appropriate care for him, and sometimes giving him nursing care myself when all else failed...e.g. Tepid sponging him during a 14 hour wait on a trolley in A & E with a hyperpyrexia of 40.2 degrees C, to prevent the resulting tachycardia from affecting his atrial fibrillation; no-one considered giving him paracetamol! Every step of the way was a battle, from getting a diagnosis to being seen by an appropriate consultant. I fear for patients who do not have relatives with knowledge of their conditions, their rights or the hospital system.

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  • So in all of this, are you all also pushing and insisting to the government/management that there are enough staff on the wards to give your elderly relatives the care they need? Or are you simply insisting the already overstretched staff focus on you first at the expense of someone else?

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  • michael stone

    mike, are worried relatives of ill people, supposed to also make a study of the staffing levels of the hospitals they are admitted to ?

    Nurses and doctors are the experts re inadequate staffing levels - it is nurses and doctors who must publicize that problem.

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  • Anonymous

    michael stone | 3-Oct-2011 10:48 am

    "Nurses and doctors are the experts re inadequate staffing levels - it is nurses and doctors who must publicize that problem."
    What a stupid thing to say!!! Of course it isn't just the job of the nurses and doctors! Right enough, if you foist the responsilbilty onto them and take none yourself, then you can continue to blame the staff. I take it you're not a nurse then? For crying out loud.



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  • Anonymous

    nurses do nothing but publicise the problem - to no avail

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